Texas’ hazing interpretation too strict


Becoming a new member of an organization at Baylor follows with exciting weeks of learning more about the club’s traditions as well as bonding with the current members.

While joining an organization at Baylor has its definite perks and high points, most clubs and organizations must tread lightly when it comes to new member initiations and requirements because of poorly-written hazing laws.

The Texas hazing policy is written in a way that makes almost any sort of requirement for new members considered hazing.

As defined by the Texas Education Code in 1995, hazing is “any intentional, knowing, or reckless act, occurring on or off the campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student, that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a students for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in an organization.”

In layman’s terms, college hazing can range from the stereotypical paddling to severe social and emotional humiliation.

However, all sorts of organizations are susceptible to treating their new member with less-than-acceptable greetings.

Last fall, 13 students from the Texas State University Bobcat Marching Band were charged with hazing misdemeanors, among other charges given to specific people including furnishing alcohol to minors.

Further investigation revealed that the marching band members took their freshman members to an apartment where they were blindfolded and forced to consume alcohol until they vomited. Other inappropriate acts at the “party” were reported as well.

This situation is what Baylor earnestly and successfully tries to avoid and for good reason.

While Baylor certainly has its students’ well-being in mind while following these rules, its hands are tied when it comes to some head-scratching cases that technically are considered hazing.

For example, the state could reasonably argue that an event such as a new-member basketball game is a hazing violation.

After all, a new-member basketball game would be an intentional act that occurs at an educational institution by a student group that is directed toward new members.

And since pick-up basketball presents the possibility of injury, the new members’ physical health is at risk. The problem is that nobody in their right mind would consider a new-member basketball game as an act of hazing, so the state of Texas has unreasonably restricted every student group within its boarders.

Because all schools in Texas must abide by this state code, it is somewhat ridiculous for schools such as Baylor to have to punish students that are honestly just trying to put new-member functions together.

To combat this, hazing should be handled on a case-by-case basis because hazing is something that is hard to define but is easily identified.

It is difficult for a state to write a law that will encompass all forms of hazing without including any strange unintended consequences.

What will be considered hazing next? Asking new members to attend weekly chapter meetings? Asking new members to pay dues?

It’s time we punish groups for actual hazing instead of honestly trying to integrate their new members into the existing group.

The hazing policy is meant to protect students from embarrassment or harmful initiation situations to prevent a scene from the 1978 movie “Animal House” from happening. Baylor is certainly keeping to this rule and if you feel as though you have been a victim of hazing, please come forward to Student Activities and submit an anonymous hazing report form.